Patriots' Big-Swing Target When Free Agency Opens Revealed

The New England Patriots could be one of multiple teams interested in signing free-agent wide receiver Calvin Ridley.

New England Patriots Introduce Jerod Mayo as Head Coach
New England Patriots Introduce Jerod Mayo as Head Coach / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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The New England Patriots have the second-most cap space ($85.3 million per OverTheCap) heading into free agency and have a ton of holes to fill as they try to rebound from a horrendous 2023 season.

One position New England must prioritize at the start of Monday’s legal tampering period is wide receiver. The Patriots’ wide receiver unit was not good in 2023 and played an instrumental role in the offense’s struggle.

The free agent wide receiver market already lost some of its firepower as Mike Evans re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a two-year deal, and Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr. were given the franchise tag.

However, Calvin Ridley could be the perfect option for the Patriots, as they will likely draft a QB with the No. 3 overall pick. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote on Sunday (subscription required) that the Patriots are expected to “swing big” on Ridley.

Ridley looked like he didn’t miss a step with the Jacksonville Jaguars, racking up 76 receptions (136 targets) for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns. It was the second time the 6-foot-1 wideout posted 1,000-plus receiving yards in a season.

The veteran wide receiver would immediately become New England’s No. 1 wide receiver if the Pats signed him. Spotrac projects Ridley’s calculated market value as a four-year, $70 million deal with an average annual salary of $17.5 million.

With Kendrick Bourne not certain to come back in 2024 and Juju Smith-Schuster returning from an injury, the Patriots need to do a full-court press on adding more receiver talent. The potential addition of Ridley would be a great first step for the Patriots, but they are still a long way from winning the AFC East (+1700 on FanDuel Sportsbook).

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